Making a difference: Vancouverite approaches the end of year-long gratitude journey

Jul 19 2016, 4:58 am

It can be hard to find enough people who have impacted your life to thank every single day. But when Randy Sangha started his journey to do just that for a year, he didn’t know he’d have bittersweet feelings about ending it.

“I’m feeling great about coming to the end because every single day I have to think ‘who is it’ and the process starts the night before,” Sangha tells Daily Hive. “It’s kind of nice that I’m going to be letting go of that, but then it’s sort of like – wow, it’s been such a great process for me, what’s going to take the place of it?”

Sangha, who’s a high school teacher, started his Gratitude Challenge on his 50th birthday last year. He created a blog and started publicly thanking people who made an impact on him, for better or for worse.

One of the hardest people to thank was his father.

“He was a paranoid delusional schizophrenic and was in Riverview for most of my young life – from about six to 16,” says Sangha. “I got bullied for that because sometimes he would escape and then would have to be taken back. Being Indo-Canadian, we don’t really talk about mental illness, so we were told never to say anything, yet people kind of knew.”

“I was always a little angry at him, but I went through my own process of healing a few years ago, and to publicly thank him for being the best dad he could in his situation was very, very healing for me.”

After that post, Sangha was flooded with emails thanking him for acknowledging mental illness and shining a light on a taboo subject. He says the most impactful aspect of this journey has been the healing quality his posts have had on others.

How it all started

Sangha says the idea for the blog came from a moment of reflection. He was recounting the steps he’d taken in his 50 years of life and realized he hadn’t made it there alone.

“People have gotten me here. And I thought ‘I want to publicly thank them,'” he says. “I remember this saying when I first got into teaching: criticize in private, praise in public. That was at the back of my mind.”

“Also, I just needed gratitude. I don’t like watching the news because it’s so negative, but then there’s that piece at the end where there’s something wonderful, you feel good about it, and I thought ‘that’s what I want to do.'”

While not every post was deep and emotional – he thanks celebrities like Brad Pitt in one or two of them – Sangha says he has learned an important lesson through all of this.

“There’s no shame in sharing and putting yourself out there – that’s the biggest thing.”

“I’ve been told that my rawness has been very healing for people and just showing my humanity and my human nature has come out.”

And who’s the last person he’s going to thank?

“The culminating one will be thanking myself. Everyone needs to thank themselves because everyone goes through things and you don’t need other people’s thanks – you need to be thanking yourself.”

Lauren SundstromLauren Sundstrom

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